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Last updated on May 18, 2020

The Best Frying Pans

A cook-off between 10 nonstick skillets ​

How We Found the Best Frying Pan

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68 pans considered

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10 pans tested

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3 top picks

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The Best Frying Pans

For lots of home chefs, the best frying pan is going to be nonstick, oven-safe, and able to withstand some wear and tear. We consulted with the pros, then tested 10 best-in-class pans, flipping fried eggs, baking cornbread, and searing steak to see which were the least sticky and the most comfortable to maneuver.

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The 3 Best Frying Pans

    The Best Frying Pans: Summed Up

    KitchenAid Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Nonstick Fry Pan
    All-Clad Stainless Steel Tri-Ply 10-Inch Nonstick Skillet
    Copper Chef 10-Inch Round Nonstick Fry Pan
    The Best
    Frying Pan for Most People
    Premium Frying Pan
    Budget Frying Pan
    Weight
    2.5 lbs
    2.25 lbs
    1.5 lbs
    Oven safe
    Up to 500 degrees
    Up to 600 degrees
    Up to 850 degrees
    Dishwasher safe

    KitchenAid Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Nonstick Fry Pan

    The Best Frying Pan for Most People
    Image for Product Card-KitchenAid2
    KitchenAid Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Nonstick Fry Pan


    A consistently high-performing pan that’s comfortable to use and reasonably priced.

    Pros

    • Consistency
      Performance
      Affordable quality

    Cons

    • Needs a little love

    Why we chose it

    Consistency

    Our top pick is from a brand you know and (if you have one of its signature mixers) probably already love. This frying pan gives you one more reason why. What makes the KitchenAid Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Nonstick Fry Pan so much better than the competition? Consistency. While some pans performed well in some areas and poorly in others, the KitchenAid ranked either at the top or near the top through every test.

    Performance

    This standout performer handled every type of food we tested — from fried eggs to oven-baked cornbread to seared steak — with even heat and a slick, nonstick surface. “Tri-ply pans are widely used in commercial and test kitchens,” food writer Ruzielle Ganuelas explained. “You need that layer of copper sandwiched between the aluminum for even heat distribution, and it also heats up the pan a lot faster than regular pans.”

    Of the 10 pans we tested, the KitchenAid stayed on the cooler side, which resulted in steak that had a slightly more even sear compared to, say, the hotter Copper Chef — even though both cooked the meat to about the same rareness in the same amount of time.

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    Affordable quality

    At around $100 (we’ve seen it for as low as $60), the KitchenAid hits a sweet spot between quality construction and “so expensive you’ll think twice.” It’s also built to last the three to five years we expect from a nonstick pan. When we tried to damage it with metal utensils and a heavy whack against a concrete ledge, it came through with barely a scratch.

    We were impressed with the KitchenAid pan pretty much as soon as we took it out of the box. It has a particularly comfortable handle that makes it easy to balance the pan’s 2.5-pound heft (about the median weight of all 10 pans we looked at) and once we started testing, it continued to deliver, competing with — if not outperforming — pans that were up to twice as expensive.

    Points to consider

    Needs a little love

    Although we were able to successfully fry eggs and release cornbread without any added lubricants, you’ll probably want to add a little butter or oil if you want a truly slippery experience.

    Also, even though it’s dishwasher safe, the KitchenAid’s care instructions suggest hand washing in hot, soapy water may “extend the life” of the pan. (Cleaning this pan is easy: A simple swipe of a soapy sponge left it looking shiny and new.) It also recommends you bring liquids to a boil before adding salt to keep white dots or pits from appearing on your nonstick surface.

    The KitchenAid’s limited lifetime warranty doesn’t cover normal wear and tear, just manufacturer and workmanship defects — wobbly rivets, for example, or a nonstick coating that rubs off. But when we actively tried to damage the pan, we had a really hard time getting any results.

    All-Clad Stainless Steel Tri-Ply 10-Inch Nonstick Skillet

    The Best Premium Frying Pan
    Image for Product Card-All-Clad
    All-Clad Stainless Steel Tri-Ply 10-Inch Nonstick Skillet


    A top performing pan, but we liked the handle (and the price) of the KitchenAid better.

    Pros

    • Upgrade quality
      Perfect for the serious chef

    Cons

    • Less value

    Why we chose it

    Upgrade quality

    The All-Clad Stainless Steel Try-Ply Nonstick Skillet is a comparable upgrade from the KitchenAid, both in looks and performance: about the same weight and size, similarly induction-friendly and oven-safe (up to higher 600 degrees), and with a quality nonstick coating. It also performed about the same in damage testing and cooking — even slightly outperforming our top pick in our fried egg test.

    Perfect for the serious chef

    If the Copper Chef is a pan for a starter home, the All-Clad series is designed (and priced) for a more serious kitchen. The profile and even-heat performance make it a stylish staple for the chef who cooks on high. We tested two All-Clad nonstick pans to see if the five alternating layers of steel and aluminum in the d5 were better than its tri-ply sister pan, the All-Clad Stainless Nonstick Fry Pan. We ended up liking both a lot, but from a performance standpoint, the tri-ply actually edged out the d5 in egg flipability and damage resistance.

    Points to consider

    Less value

    All-clad makes a great pan. Still, it didn’t land the top spot for two reasons. First, its handle isn’t as comfortable to hold and maneuver, with curved outer edges that dig into your hand a little when you grip them on the stove or while scrubbing in the sink. Second: It’s a good $50 more expensive. That said, All-Clad is a well-known and well-loved luxury kitchen brand. If you’re looking for, say, a wedding gift, you won’t go wrong here.

    Copper Chef 10-Inch Round Nonstick Fry Pan

    The Best Budget Frying Pan
    Image for Product Card-Copper Chef
    Copper Chef 10-Inch Round Nonstick Fry Pan

    Copper Chef 10-Inch Round Nonstick Fry Pan

    Amazingly nonstick, and the only one of our top picks that doesn’t use Teflon. That said, it’s not built to last.

    Pros

    • Great deal
      Emphatically nonstick

    Cons

    • Hotter and less hearty

    Why we chose it

    Great deal

    We’re going to be honest: We expected this pan to fail. Anything with the bright red “As Seen on TV” logo comes with instant skepticism, but the more we tested the Copper Chef Nonstick Pan, the more impressed we were. Its “As Seen on TV” infomercials don’t lie — the nonstick capabilities are seriously impressive. Eggs and even steak slide around on this pan like marbles on a tabletop, and that’s without adding oil. Oh, and it’s around $20.

    Emphatically nonstick

    The Copper Chef gave us the best fried egg in our tests and it was the easiest egg to fry. Although the KitchenAid did very well in this test, there was still a slight resistance — that is, a little bit of stick — when we slid in our slotted turner and tried to flip the egg without breaking its yolk. The Copper Chef had no resistance at all.

    PTFE, a.k.a Teflon, free

    Copper Chef is one of the only pans we tested that’s not coated with PTFE — Teflon. The Copper Chef is aluminum (copper is just its color) with a Cerami-Tech ceramic nonstick coating. Ceramic coatings are known for not having the lifespan of PTFE — another reason for that small price tag — and we discuss why PTFE isn’t the risk some consumers think below. Every expert we spoke to and every study we read confirmed that there is no reason to avoid Teflon, and all our top picks are PFOA-free, which is what most Teflon-related health concerns are about. That said, if you are dead-set on a Teflon-free nonstick pan, this one will deliver.

    Points to consider

    Hotter and less hearty

    The Copper Chef is not a perfect piece of cookware, particularly when it comes to heat and wear and tear. The majority of the pans we tested, including the KitchenAid and the All-Clad pans, had handles that stayed cool while we fried eggs and seared steak. The Copper Chef handle got notably hot. You’ll want to use a hot pad or an oven mitt while stovetop cooking.

    You’re also going to want to avoid banging it around your kitchen. Even though it made it through our fork-scratch test without a mark, we managed to put a huge dent in it during our damage testing. At only about 1.5 pounds, that concrete ledge made a massive dent that warped its cooking surface. Also know that ceramic coatings wear away much faster than their PTFE counterparts, which means you’ll be replacing this pan in months, not years.

    How We Chose the Best Frying Pans

    Universally compatible, medium-sized, oven-safe pans

    We started with a list of 68 nonstick frying pans from retailers as varied as Williams Sonoma, Kmart, and Amazon, then by looking for some basic criteria we narrowed the field down to 10 to hands-on test ourselves.

    First, compatibility with all types of stovetops, including induction. Second, the versatility conferred by being oven-safe. Author and “kitchen gadget geek” Liana Green of Liana’s Kitchen likes oven-safe nonstick pans because you can, for example, brown a steak on the stove and put it directly into the oven without having to transfer it into a baking dish.

    We also opted to only test 10- and 11-inch pans. This is a good size for cooking two fried eggs or a three-egg omelet, but if you’re interested in more (or less), most of the models we tested come in a range of sizes, typically from 9 inches up to 12.

    Group Shot for Frying Pan

    Nonstick

    Want to get a really quick sense of how good your nonstick pan is? Fry an egg on it. If you can successfully fry an egg without the white sticking all over the pan and with the yolk intact, you’ve got a keeper. We heated each of our test pans for two minutes, and then fried eggs on low heat without adding any oil or butter, specifically because we wanted to test the nonstick surface of the pan itself — without any additional lubricants. Same goes with our cornbread. We mixed the batter and spread it into each nonstick pan without any oil or butter. After 15 minutes in a 400-degree oven, we tested to see which could release a wedge leaving the fewest crumbs or crusts behind.

    Use Testing - Frying Pan
    The aftermath of our fried egg test.

    Heat distribution

    We did two tests to get a sense of heat distribution. The first was heating two cups of cold water over medium heat to see where those mini bubbles appeared first, and if there were any hot or cold spots as the water grew warmer. We also tested searing 1-inch round eye steaks over medium-high heat to see if any pans cooked hotter, or didn’t release meat as well.

    All 10 pans handled the meat well — no sticking, and all achieved about the same rareness after six minutes — but some pans definitely seared the meat more than others. When we double-checked each pan’s temperature with an infrared thermometer, we saw about a 135-degree temperature swing, but nothing that would cut a pan from the running.

    Longevity

    Nonstick pans aren’t heirloom kitchenware. According to author and recipe developer Pamela Braun, “Three to five years is about right for the lifespan of a nonstick pan that gets used regularly.” (She also noted, though, that “most people keep their pans much, much longer than that.”)

    The true test of a nonstick pan is how it performs in the long term, so we did our best to cram a few years of use into a couple of days by breaking all the nonstick frying pan rules. We banged each pan against a concrete edge to see how easy it was to dent or warp the surface, and scraped metal forks across their surfaces to see if any flaked started flaking off. Then we ran all 10 pans through an industrial-strength dishwasher, including the ones that were “hand wash only.”

    Holistic best

    For us, the best nonstick cookware felt good to use, passed all our cooking tests, and sported a price point that wouldn’t make us gag. After a day in the test kitchen, we learned not all nonstick pans are created equally. Some are heavier than others; some have handles that dig into your hands or get hot while cooking; and some have surfaces that are more difficult to get clean. Turns out, some aren’t even all that nonstick.

    How to Find the Right Frying Pan for Your Kitchen

    Avoid nonstick pans with textured cooking surfaces

    Some nonstick frying pans come with textured surfaces, such as the Frieling Black Cube Fry Pan and the Circulon Symmetry Hard-Anodized Nonstick French Skillet. It sounds a little like a no-brainer, but we found that the pans with textured surfaces were consistently less nonstick than pans with smooth surfaces — and the experts agree. “A raised pattern on a nonstick pan pretty much negates its nonstick ability,” Braun confirms. “Food tends to grip to the texture, so a smooth-bottomed pan is ideal in this category.”

    Why would a nonstick frying pan have a textured surface? In the case of the Frieling Black Cube Fry Pan, it might be so that you can use metal utensils on the pan — a fact that Frieling advertises prominently. The Frieling pan was the only one to pass our fork scratch test with no marks whatsoever — so those surfaces are good for something!

    Pick your ply

    Of our top picks and honorable mentions, two pans are tri-ply: the KitchenAid Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Nonstick Skillet and the All-Clad Stainless Nonstick Fry Pan. The All-Clad d5 Stainless Nonstick Fry Pan, the Demeyere 5-Plus Nonstick Fry Pan, and the Swiss Diamond Prestige Clad Nonstick Fry Pan all have five layers — which helps explain why they are typically more expensive than the tri-ply options.

    Frying Pan FAQ

    About the Authors

    The Reviews.com staff is dedicated to providing you with all the deep-dive details. Our writers, researchers, and editors came together from Charlotte, Seattle, San Juan, Fort Worth, Fort Lauderdale, San Diego, and Chicago to put this review together.